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Madness: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Madness: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
by Andrew Scull
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good Very Short Introduction, 17 April 2012
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Andrew Scull approaches an enormous and compelling subject with remarkable clarity and concision without ever slipping into perfunctory analysis. That he is a leading scholar in the history and sociology of mental illness is immediately apparent, yet his account is wonderfully accessible and engaging for all. He is adroit in his articulation of the many paradigmatic shifts that have occurred in the understanding and treatment of mental illness. Nor is this a Whiggish account of uniform progress. He is appropriately robust in his handling of the pseudo-scientific Freudian mumbo-jumbo that engulfed psychology and psychiatry for far too long. The current hegemony of pharmacological approaches is also treated to a far from eulogic assessment. Perhaps the most appealing quality of Andrew Scull's excellent book is that it is mercifully free from the jargon and depressingly mechanistic theory-laden approaches that have frequently infected studies in the history of medicine.


Hysteria: The disturbing history
Hysteria: The disturbing history
by Andrew Scull
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A most welcome study, 17 April 2012
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This is a splendid book. With considerable elegance it surveys the paradigmatic shifts in the understanding and treatment of a disease that was once familiar but now appears to have disappeared. We are, for example, led through medical preoccupation with the movement of the womb, hence `hys'teria, towards neurological explanations. Professor Scull broadens our understanding of this fascinating subject by demonstrating that, perhaps contrary to popular belief, this was not a condition that was confined to women. He provides an especially compelling and effective section on shell shock during the First World War. His study details the development and ever-increasing sub-categorisation of mental illness. This process has meant that the rather amorphous condition of hysteria has been dispersed into a range of other conditions outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Andrew Scull's account is both well-informed and lucid. Moreover, it is refreshingly free from the theory-laden claptrap that too frequently squeezes the life out of historical analyses of mental illness. This excellent book ought to be of interest to psychiatrists, psychologists, medics, historians, philosophers and the lay public. I recommend it unreservedly.


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